Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh? Well, maybe my neighbor down the hallway in my building. The one that checks his mail in his pajamas and slippers with his coffee cup in hand. He never replies when I greet him with a friendly hello. I always want to corner him and tell him my funniest joke if it wasn’t for his stink eye. It usually looks a little watery with a touch of crust in the corner. Whenever he points it at me my instinct is to look away before it makes contact. Although his first impression seems to scream, Back Off!!! I think there is a puppy inside in need of some playtime. I could be wrong, like the time I asked the pregnant receptionist how far along she was only to learn that she wasn’t pregnant at all. Since comedy usually requires great timing, I may wait a little while longer to spring my best joke on the pajama neighbor.
If you are the type that requires regular laughter like me then you’ll be happy to learn that the JFL Film Festival has decided to make Vancouver it’s home. It was recently in town from March 1-10 and will be back next year. There was so much compressed into the ten day event, they may need to extend it to a month. Just my thoughts. With film submissions from around the world and Canada, I was given the fine privilege of watching a handful of them to coordinate some interviews with the writers and directors.
One very funny short film I had watched was, Lottery. It’s about a man in a bar that discovers he’s won the lottery. Before he can celebrate he’s shot by a female patron. The bar seems to be empty with the exception of the bartender. She strikes a deal to split it down the middle if the bartender helps her dispose of the body. He agrees and then the cook walks in. Again, she strikes up a deal to split it 3 ways… until an under cover cop enters. A shootout takes place as more humour unfolds. This film has two directors, Rodrigo Fernandez Stoll and Timothy Moore. They live in Toronto, so I picked up the phone.
“Where did this story idea come from?”
Rod answers, “I wrote it with the help of my girlfriend Gwen Phillips and another friend, Dan Burn. After it was finished I brought it to Tim to read. Tim and I both worked on a previous film, Job Interview using the same method where I’d write it with my partners and Tim would help direct it.”
“How difficult was it to find a bar to shoot in?”
Rod answers, “Finding the bar was pretty easy. I had gone to an after party to celebrate the Great Canadian Film Festival at the bar and Rod really liked it. I struck up a conversation with a director, Ron Cinota that just happened to know the owner. After expressing how much I liked the bar, the director put me in touch with the owner. Fortunately, he’s also involved in the film industry and told me that if I’m ever interested in shooting there to let him know. I decided to jump on his offer and said okay, how about next week? We lucked out and he agreed to let us use it. He only charged us about $150.00. The bar was closed on the day of shooting but there were some people upstairs. We did have to be gone by 7 pm because they were holding an auction in the space.”
In order to get everyone on board, Rod simply emailed everyone. They had to reschedule four times before shooting but everyone was on board from the get go. They tell me the Toronto community is quite lively and supportive when it comes to Indy projects.
“How long did it take to shoot?”
Rod answers, “It took approx. 8 hours to shoot the film. It really went quite fast. We had a pretty organized shot list, which made the shooting day go quite smoothly. I credit Tim for a smooth, well scheduled shoot.”
Tim says, “It went so fast because we weren’t getting a lot of multiple shots. Once we got the shot, we moved onto the next. We also shot chronologically, which made it go that much easier.”
“Was it difficult to find the cast?”
Tim answers, “Pretty much the entire cast is from the comedy world. They’re either comedy actors or performers. The lottery winner that gets shot is everyone’s favourite comedian in Toronto, Chris Locke. Another comedian, Caila Lorette was the shooter. One of the women that walk into the bar is actually Tim’s girlfriend, Gwen.”
When you’re making a small budget film, getting help from friends, family and associates can truly mean the difference in making or breaking your film. The time I asked my uncle Bruce to play a drunk guy however didn’t work out as planned. I thought he was doing a great job until my AD told me he showed up drunk. I forgot he couldn’t act. Rod emphasizes the importance of utilizing resources. One example, he wants to shoot another film in a couple weeks that requires an office. As it so happens, he grew up with some friends that work in an office building. He asked if he could shoot there for a weekend and they said yes. Tim says you can find that situation quite easily.
They say they’ve had great success in asking businesses to use their locations and have been happily surprised at their willingness to comply. It doesn’t get much better than that.
“ How did you finance the film?”
Rod answers, “We used the prize money that we had won from our last short film, Job Interview. There is an online film festival called the National Screen Institute Festival that awarded us with a cash prize. We won 700.00 and paid out about 680.00 for the entire production. Everyone volunteered because they love the industry. Most of the money went toward space rental, food, beer for everyone and make-up. We used a small crew but had a sound operator, Joshua Jenkins and an art director.”
Tim adds, “Everyone involved was so helpful and always willing to multitask. They were so supportive.”
Rod says the message in this story is, how far are people willing to go for not a lot of money? In the film, more and more people are brought in for a cut of the lottery if they help dispose of bodies.
Mariana Curry edited this film and their previous one. She is the go to comedy editor in Toronto. And is currently working with some bigger profile projects.
This hilarious duo tells me they’re dipping their toes in all aspects of filmmaking. If they’re not directing then they’re producing or working with as many sketch troupes as possible because there’s so much material to work with.
Lottery was accepted into the Chicago comedy festival. It screened at a couple more local festivals this year and I’m sure it won’t be stopping there. Rodrigo Fernandez Stoll and Timothy Moore are making the comedy world their oyster and we are eating it up.